Today it is common for companies to use phone calls as a part of their interview process. In some cases, telephone interviews are used to screen candidates before calling them in for in-person interviews. In other cases, such as for remote positions, the entire interview process may be done via telephone or video chat.
As you never know companies will require a phone interview, it is important to be prepared for one throughout your job search. Are you ready for a surprise call?
How to ace a phone interview
- Research the company. You need to have detailed information about the company to ace the interview. Use the company website, social media, and any articles about the company you can find to learn as much as you can.
- Prepare answers to likely interview questions. This will likely be your first official interaction with your potential boss, and you must be ready to show you are a strong candidate. Before the interview begins, you should already have answers prepared for any common interview questions. You can even keep notes in front of you with the points you would like to make in response to each question. This way, you won’t be caught off-guard by your interviewer.
- Make sure you are comfortable. Even if the person on the phone can’t see you, they may notice that you are nervous. You don’t want your recruiter to sense that you are tense or unprepared for the call. To ease your nerves, it can help to do a mock phone interview with a friend before the real interview.
- Take the call in a quiet location. Try to find a room where there are no distracting noises such as traffic, music, or crowds. If you are taking the call at home, be sure to let your housemates know not to interrupt you.
- Have your resume with you. Your employer will likely have questions about your resume. Be sure to have it nearby so that you can refer to it when responding.
- Make sure to answer the phone. When expecting a phone interview, it is best to answer the call yourself. You may want to notify family members you are waiting for an important call. You don’t want to make an employer wait while your mom carries the phone up to your room.
- Don’t multitask. Just because you are taking the call from home doesn’t mean you can treat this like a casual conversation. The interviewer deserves your full attention. Don’t pace, eat, or doodle during the interview.
- Don’t get distracted. It can be difficult to stay focused on what someone is saying over the phone. When the person you are speaking to can’t see you, you might get distracted or let your mind drift off. Don’t let this happen during an interview. Your interviewer will notice if you haven’t been paying attention.
- Stay on topic. The employer only has a certain amount of time set aside for your interview. While it is fine to exchange pleasantries, you shouldn’t get caught up in an anecdote and let the conversation stray to far from the topic at hand.
- Have questions to ask the interviewer. At the end of the interview, the employer will likely ask you if you have any questions. You should have some questions about the position prepared so you are not caught off guard.
- Be prepared to take notes. Keep a pen and paper in front of you so that you can note anything important that comes up in the interview.
- Be polite. Talking on the phone can feel casual, but this is still a professional interaction. Be polite and professional; act as though you were meeting this employer at their office. Greet them kindly, and be sure to thank them when the conversation is over.
- Write a follow-up thank you email. Once the interview is over, make sure to write a thank-you email to the interviewer thanking them for their time and reiterating your enthusiasm for the position. This can be sent within a few hours of your phone interview. You can even include additional information that you may have forgotten in the interview.
- Assess your performance. Now that the interview is over, go through the notes you made, review the questions you were asked, how you responded, and think of any questions you may have for the recruiter. It is time to prepare for the in-person interview.